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Gymnastics looks for win over New Hampshire

January 27, 2012

NIU Huskies gymnastics teamAfter back-to-back solid performances which saw Northern Illinois’ team score jump five points in the last two weeks, NIU head gymnastics coach Sam Morreale is looking for the Huskies’ numbers to continue to go up Saturday night when the Huskies play host to New Hampshire at Victor E. Court in the NIU Convocation Center.

The meet begins at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live via Huskies All-Access.

Northern Illinois (1-2) put together a strong performance last Sunday in a loss to Mid-American Conference foe Western Michigan, finishing with a 193.350 score.

Although the Huskies did not count a “miss” on a routine while compiling that score, Morreale noted that NIU did not go six-for-six on several events. By counting several higher scores, and improving the landings and details, Northern Illinois can still post higher scores.

“We’ve gone up five points in two weeks, and I don’t think we can go up five points, but we can see improvements and that’s our goal,” Morreale said. “We need to improve our details. We spent a great week working on landings and finishes. We have had arguably one of our best weeks of training to this point.”

The Huskies step out of Mid-American Conference and in-state competition for the last time this season, but that should not mean a let down, as New Hampshire (2-1) brings a team from a different region that is very competitive in its league, which includes Pitt, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, North Carolina and N.C. State, among others.

“New Hampshire is a very talented, deep team, a lot like Western Michigan,” Morreale said. “We will definitely have to come prepared. It is not a down week. I want to put two meets in a row together in terms of how we perform and our energy level. That will be a great indication of what type of team we are.”

While Huskie seniors Tanya Rachan and Shonda Clore have led the way for NIU in terms of consistency, and Northern Illinois got a career-best performance from sophomore all-arounder Kim Gotlund last week, Morreale said he has high expectations for everyone in the line-up and beyond.

“Tanya, Shonda and Kim are all regionally ranked and they are putting themselves in a good spot to advance as individuals [to NCAA Regionals], but we are not trying to approach this year individually, it is about everyone pulling their weight. You are only as good as your weakest link,” Morreale said.

“I feel everybody I put out there should hit. Everyone is working hard, everyone is improving. We have a ton of competition at the back end of our line-up, in the six, seven and eight spots. From my standpoint, that is huge. I’m excited to give some new gymnasts some exhibition experience. Some of those routines are as good as what we have currently competing.”

The gymnastics meet versus New Hampshire concludes a tripleheader of action at the NIU Convocation Center on Saturday. Tickets for the competition are $5 for adults and $3 for youth. In addition, basketball tickets from Saturday’s basketball doubleheader can be used for free admission to the gymnastics meet.

For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.